by Sherelle Jacobs, The Telegraph, April 19, 2018
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are to wed at Windsor Castle in May 2018. But where will the royal jetsetter and former luxury lifestyle blogger (not to mention daughter of an erstwhile travel agent) honeymoon? Telegraph Travel investigates...
Both have strong emotional and professional ties to Africa, making it a serious contender, but it's Namibia that has pulled ahead as the odds-on favourite. The southern African nation is best known among travellers for the enormous Sossusvlei sand dunes of the the Namib Desert, but reports suggest that the couple are looking instead at a safari trip to Hoanib Valley Camp in the country's north west.
This collection of six luxury tents is in a prime position for spotting rare desert-adapted species of elephant, lion, giraffe, endangered black rhino and more. There's also the option of flying out to the camp's new sister property, Shipwreck Lodge, set in the remote, wreck-strewn wilds of the Skeleton Coast.
Ms Markle has visited Rwanda as a World Vision Global Ambassador in the past, an experience that she described as 'incredible'. This nugget of a country at the continent's heart offers unrivalled gorilla sighting experiences, an astonishing volcano-rimpled landscape and – as a little-visited Central African country – plenty of tranquility.
The new One&Only Nyungwe House, due to open next spring, will be set on a working tea plantation and offer excursions to rare species of chimpanzees in a nearby forest. Or perhaps Bisate Lodge, set in the natural amphitheatre of a volcanic cone will appeal to the couple, with its gorilla trekking offerings.
Although Botswana is a favourite destination of Harry's, we've ruled it out as the couple holidayed there earlier in the year. So will they opt for an alternative up-and-coming option like Malawi? Harry visited the underexplored landlocked country when he helped African Parks with one of the biggest elephant translocations in conservation history this summer.
Although the country is light on the Big Five, Lake Malawi is a showstopper; David Livingstone described it as a 'Lake of Stars', in reference to the lantern-flecked fishing boats that glide across the waters at night. Nkwichi, a five-star lodge located on its shores, boasts SUP classes on the water and a 'Star Bed' on a private beach bristling with baobab trees.
Palawan in the Philippines is on Meghan's holiday wishlist, according to the Instagram feed of her former lifestyle blog The Tig. The 150,000-year-old island, all jungle-barbed mountains and deserted lagoons, is an hour-and-a-half's flight from the capital, Manila.
Its Bacuit archipelago, a landscape of scarred limestone, karst cliffs and dramatic sinkholes, is a popular destination for island hopping, and enjoying rare wildlife, from purple crabs to endangered pangolins. Amanpulo, just northeast of Palawan Island, is the region's most luxurious hideaway: think five miles of private beach, evening barbecues for two at the mouth of a cave; and superlative scuba diving.
Wine afficionado Meghan might like the idea of Tuscany in fresh, balmy spring – maybe the vineyards of Chianti and Montalcino, or the wild frontier of Maremma, with its top-notch seafood.
Rosewood Castiglion Bosco, an 800-year-old working wine estate, might do the trick. The on-site cookery school that uses organic produce from the hotel's garden should appeal to Meghan, a self-confessed foodie. The couple might also like the idea of the hotel's private villa, Alba, a converted stone farmhouse on a secluded hilltop peppered with old-growth trees; Insta-worthy interiors aplenty and a private pool seal the deal.
Read the full review: Rosewood Castiglion Bosco, Tuscany
Meghan is also a fan of the Amalfi Coast, as her social media posts attest. It's not hard to see why this contorted coastline of tangled vineyards, pastel villages, vulcanic sheer drops, and cliff-clinging five-star villas is a favourite destination among Telegraph readers too.
The former Suits star has previously stayed at Le Sirenuse in Positano (she even took an Instagram shot of the muffin-laden breakfast buffet). Other enticements include Moorish architecture, a panoramic restaurant illuminated by 400 candles, and a pool shaded by lemon trees.
Read the full review: Le Sirenuse, Positano
LA-raised Meghan has spoken of her idyllic childhood holidays in Hawaii. The world-leading honeymoon destination might be a touch on the obvious side, but with its kaleidoscopic colour reefs, babypowder beaches, mist-cuddled ocean cliffs, and hippyish paradise vibe, the couple might still be tempted.
Perhaps they'll plump for the Four Seasons at Lanai, the only five-star hotel on Hawaii's last unspoiled island. The Royal Suite is perfectly positioned for dolphin watching. The infinity pool is also the place to be, preferably on one of the fun inflatable seats, herb-spiked cocktail in hand.
Read the full review: Four Seasons Resort at Lanai, Hawaii
Another of Meghan's favourite destinations; she's posted about her love of Cappadocia on social media. This astonishing semi-arid region of Central Anatolia is known for its cone-shaped rock formations and Bronze period homes carved out by troglodytes.
Accommodation options are quirky if fairly basic, and include the Kemerhan Cave Suites, fashioned from an ancient settlement. The couple may want to follow up with something more luxurious - like Hotel Villa Mahal, an exclusive boutique that postures over Kalkan Bay. Its Cliff House suite has its own ocean-oggling pool and the hotel's dinghy sailing experiences are particularly sought after.
Read the full review: Hotel Villa Mahal, Kalkan Bay
One of Meghan's most vivid childhood travel memories is travelling to Oaxaca aged nine for Day of the Dead festivals, where she reportedly ate a lot of moles (traditional local sauces). But she and Harry may prefer to consider exclusive Los Cabos for their honeymoon: imposing arched cliffs, cactus-dotted landscapes and gold-leaf-coloured beaches have helped establish it as one of the world's most up-and-coming beach destinations.
Health-focused One&Only Palmilla runs daily yoga sessions, which may appeal to Meghan (her mum is a yoga teacher). Raucously colourful hacienda-style villas overlook the Sea of Cortez; the largest even has its own 'Butler Suite'.
Read the full review: One&Only Palmilla
It may be a honeymoon cliché, but Harry has holidayed in Barbados several times. The polo scene is a big draw for him: it was here that he was also famously thrown from his pony while playing in the Sentebale Polo Cup.
Happily, the macaroon-pink boutique retreat Cobblers Cove can organise sessions at a nearby polo field. This genteel, old-school classic, once the beach getaway of a plantation owner, has a loyal, largely British following. The adventure-loving couple might also be seduced by the opportunity to go on expeditions with Barker, Cobblers' resident fisherman.
Read the full review: Cobblers Cove, Barbados
The country that Prince Harry visited for his first-ever solo tour in 2012. He appeared to enjoy it, spending one Saturday larking about on a Rio beach and even joining a game with female volleyball players. This country of platinum sand, bellowing waterfalls and staggering wildlife, from pink dolphins to armadillos, is also a destination Megan has had her eye on, if her old blog The Tig is anything to go by.
Interior design-loving Meghan would love Uxua in hippie paradise Trancoso, an underexplored beach town on the Bahian coast. Uxua's 500-year-old casas are richly decorated with reclaimed materials, ancient artifacts and one-off pieces by local artisans. The most fetching has a plunge pool on its rooftop deck.
North Island, Seychelles
Or could the Prince follow his older brother's lead and book out North Island, the £5,000-a-night private island where William and Kate honeymooned in 2011. Almost everyone arrives by helicopter to the 11-villa property, all billowing cotton, thatched walls and distressed wood furniture.
Staff outnumber guests by two-to-one and freshly caught seafood and champagne is a daily staple on the menu. Villas boast timber four-poster-beds and plunge pools.
Read the full review: North Island, Seychelles
Or how about yachting?
Charles and Diana spent their honeymoon on board the Royal Yacht Britannia in 1981. The Prince of Wales earned the name Crazy Horse for his overzealousness when it came to deck hockey matches with the crewmen. But would his son ever opt for a post-wedding getaway at sea?
Meghan certainly looks at ease in this yachting holiday snap, with her windswept hair and flattering nautical stripes.
Montpelier Plantation and Beach, Nevis
Rumours are swirling (mostly whipped up by the island's tourist board) that the pair will honeymoon on Nevis, where Harry holidayed with his mother in 1993. In 2016, he returned as part of his Caribbean tour. The lesser-visited destination in the Caribbean is more intrepid than its sister islands, all volcanic mountains and pristine beaches. The countryside is a rush of rugged heather, wild thyme and strawberry trees.
Could the pair be planning to hole themselves up at one of the most luxurious hotels on the island, Montpelier Plantation and Beach, where Harry stayed with his late mother? It has a lush hillside setting and an aristocratic feel. Its chic plantation-style Tamarind villa, with its own pool and authentic clapboard exteriors, also delivers on the privacy front.
Read the full review: Montpelier Plantation and Beach, Nevis